Florida Man And His Corporation Sentenced For Illegal Dredging And Wetlands Violations in Panama City
PANAMA CITY, FLORIDA – Brian Raphael D’Isernia, 69, of Panama City Beach, Florida, and Lagoon Landing, LLC, a corporation controlled by D’Isernia, were sentenced today in federal court in the Northern District of Florida for illegal dredging and felony wetlands violations. The two defendants were ordered to pay a criminal fine totaling $2.25 million dollars, the largest criminal fine assessed for wetlands violations in Florida history.
D’Isernia was sentenced to a fine of $100,000 and a $25 special monetary assessment, while Lagoon Landing, LLC, was sentenced to a term of probation of three years, a fine of $2.15 million, a community service payment of $1 million to the National Fish and Wildlife foundation, a charitable non-profit organization created by Congress, and a $400 special monetary assessment.
D’Isernia pleaded guilty to charges that he knowingly violated the Rivers and Harbors Act. Specifically, D’Isernia admitted to his involvement in illegally dredging an upland cut boat basin in Allanton and the channel connecting it to East Bay between December 2009 and February 2010.
Lagoon Landing, LLC, pleaded guilty to a felony violation of the Clean Water Act for knowingly discharging a pollutant into waters of the United States without a permit. Between 2005 and 2010, Lagoon Landing used tractors and other heavy equipment to alter and fill wetland areas of property it controlled in Allanton without obtaining a permit. The wetland areas were adjacent to East Bay.
The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation will use the money to fund projects for the conservation, protection, restoration and management of wetland, marine, and coastal resources, with an emphasis on projects benefiting wetlands in and around St. Andrew Bay.
United States Attorney Pamela C. Marsh said, “The beautiful seashores and pristine waters in North Florida are deserving of our protection, and Congress has given us strong environmental laws to ensure these treasures are preserved for future generations. My office will continue to work closely with the EPA, as we did in this case, to enforce federal environmental protection laws. It is my hope that the $1 million payment to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation for restoration and marine protection projects will help mitigate the damage done by these defendants and also send a strong deterrence message that polluting our waters will not be tolerated.”
“The defendants failed to secure required permits and damaged environmentally sensitive wetlands,” said Maureen O’ Mara, Special Agent-in-Charge of EPA’s criminal enforcement program in Florida. “These are essential natural resources and today’s sentence shows that any company or person that harms them will be prosecuted.”
Five separate but related civil settlements have also been filed:
- Northwest Florida Holdings, Inc., a Florida corporation controlled by D’Isernia, entered into an Administrative Compliance Order with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that will result in the restoration of approximately 58.63 acres of wetlands and upland buffers. The wetlands will be protected from future development by a conservation easement. The corporation also agreed to study the water quality in and around the Allanton and Nelson Street Shipyards;, to upgrade stormwater protection for the Allanton Shipyard, to withdraw applications to convert the launching basin to a marina, to create a Planned Unit Development at the Allanton Shipyard; and to hire someone to oversee environmental compliance.
- Northwest Florida Holdings, Inc., entered into a Consent Order with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) and agreed to conduct stormwater corrective actions and water quality studies at the Allanton Shipyard. The corporation will pay a $9,750 civil fine to the Ecosystem Management and Restoration Trust Fund, and $94,718.25 in severed dredge materials fees to the Florida Internal Improvement Trust Fund.
- Bay Fabrication, Inc., a corporation controlled by D’Isernia, entered into a Consent Order with FDEP and agreed to conduct stormwater corrective actions and water quality studies at the Nelson Street Shipyard. The corporation will pay a $6,000 civil fine to the Ecosystem Management and Restoration Trust Fund, and $76,923 in severed dredge materials fees to the Florida Internal Improvement Trust Fund.
- Peninsula Holdings, LLC, a corporation controlled by D’Isernia, entered into a Consent Order with FDEP and agreed to conduct stormwater improvements at property it owns located at 2500 Nelson Street, Panama City, Florida 32401. The corporation will pay a $1,500 civil fine to the Ecosystem Management and Restoration Trust Fund.
- D’Isernia and his wife Miriam D’Isernia entered into a Consent Order with FDEP to remove unauthorized fill materials from property located in Panama City Beach, Florida. Brian and Miriam D’Isernia will pay a $250 civil fine to the Ecosystem Management and Restoration Trust Fund.
These cases were investigated by the EPA Criminal Investigation Division and the Coast Guard Investigative Service, in partnership with EPA Region 4, the U.S. Department of Transportation, Office of Inspector General, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Coast Guard Station Panama City, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and FDEP. The cases were prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Randall J. Hensel.